Healthy Cows, Healthy Calves
It was another warm week at the Greet Ranch and, as I mentioned last week, we vaccinated our cows. There were three things that we did while they were in the chute: "poured" them with a parasiticide, injected them with MultiMin 90, and injected them with a scours vaccine. The scour guard is the most important of these.
I apologize if you are reading this over breakfast or were thinking of going to lunch, but if you don't know, scours is basically diarrhea in newborn calves. It can be mild or acute and can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and even death. In bad cases this can happen in a pretty short amount of time. To help prevent this, we give a scour guard vaccine. The vaccine must be given 4-6 weeks before calving. And let me tell you, calving season is coming up fast. This vaccine doesn't prevent it all by any means, but everything we can do to help is worth it.
The priority being the scour guard vaccine, since we were putting them through the chute anyway, we took the opportunity to give them MultiMin 90 and pour on. These products are fairly straightforward. The MultiMin 90 is a mineral product that injects trace minerals into the cow. It is a source for zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper. The idea behind it is that cattle can run deficient in these trace minerals and this injectable mineral will cure these deficiencies and give the cows a boost. Since we are coming up on calving, we took the chance to top them off on these minerals.
The "pour on" is simply a parasiticide for getting rid of worms. It can help with flies and lice as well, but flies are not much of a problem in winter. Lice and worms, however, can thrive this time of year with cattle being bunched together eating hay on the feed grounds. The parasiticide is very similar to what you might give to your pets and the active ingredient in this one (ivermectin) is often used in wormers for other species including dogs and people. The main difference is that it is simply poured down along the spine of the cow and is absorbed through the skin instead of being in a pill. Injectables are also available, but we use the pour on version.
The cattle went through the chute were they were given their shots and wormer, as they exited they were sorted into two different bunches based on their age. Younger cows, three and four year olds, went one direction and everything that was older went the other way. This allows us to give the younger cows better feed to help them with the rigors of being a young mother. Also, younger cows don't tend to eat as fast so they don't have to compete with the bigger, older cows for the feed that is given to them.
It was a full day between the feeding, gathering, vaccinating, and moving cows. It went very smoothly and we were very grateful for the good weather. I hope your week went just as smoothly and that this explains a little about the preparation before calving as well as some of the health concerns that beef producers have to address in their herds.
by Brandon Greet